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  • CS378 - Mobile Computing

    Anatomy of an Android App and the App Lifecycle

  • Application Components • five primary components • different purposes and different lifecycles • Activity

    – single screen with a user interface, app may have several activities, subclass of Activity

    – Most of early examples will be activities • Intents

    – used to pass information between applications • Service

    – Application component that performs long-running operations in background with no UI

    – example, an application that automatically responds to texts when driving

  • Application Components • Content Providers

    – a bridge between applications to share data – for example the devices contacts information – we tend to use these, but not create new ones

    • Broadcast Receivers – component that responds to system wide

    announcements – battery low, screen off, date changed – also possible to initiate broadcasts from within

    an application

  • Hello Android • Create an Activity • Demonstrate resources created • show the Activity lifecycle within the

    Android OS • show the various debugging tools

    available • show how to start one Activity from


  • Activity Stack

    User currently interacting with me

    Pressing Back or destroying A1 will bring me to the top

    If Activities above me use too many resources, I’ll be destroyed!

    Most recently created is at Top Activity 1

    Activity 2

    Activity 3

    Activity N

  • Typical Game


    Splash Screen Activity

    Main Menu Activity

    Game Play Activity

    High Scores Activity

    Settings Activity

    Conder & Darcey (2010), Fig 4.1, p. 74

  • Activity Lifecycle



  • Starting Activities • Android applications don't start with a

    call to main(String[]) • instead a series of callback methods are

    invoked • each corresponds to specific stage of the

    Activity / application lifecycle • callback methods also used to tear down

    Activity / application

  • Simplified Lifecycle Diagram

    ready to interact with user

  • Understanding the Lifecycle • Necessary to overload callback methods so your

    app behaves well: • App should not crash if the user receives a

    phone call or switches to another app while using your app.

    • App should not consume valuable system resources when the user is not actively using it.

    • App should not lose the user's progress if they leave your app and return to it at a later time.

    • App should not crash or lose the user's progress when the screen rotates between landscape and portrait orientation.


  • Primary States • Active

    – activity is in the foreground and user can interact with it • Paused

    – activity partially obscured by another activity and user cannot interact with it (for example when working with a menu or dialog)

    • Stopped – activity completely hidden and not visible to user. It is in

    the background. – Activity instance and variables are retained but no code

    is being executed by the activity • Dead, activity terminated (or never started) • Two other states, Created and Started, but they are

    transitory onCreate -> onStart -> onResume

  • AndroidManifest.xml


    Specify Activity to start with

    All Activities that are part of application must be registered in Manifest

  • What is used for what? • Entire lifetime: onCreate / onDestroy

    – Load UI – Could start and stop threads that should

    always be running • Visible lifetime: onStart / onStop

    – Access or release resources that influence UI • Foreground lifetime: onResume / onPause

    – Restore state and save state – Start and stop audio, video, animations

  • LifeCycleTest • overload these methods from Activity:

    – onCreate(), onStart(), onResume(), onPause(), onStop(), onRestart(), onDestroy()

    – Use the Log class to log activity – methods: v, d, i, w, e – VERBOSE, DEBUG, INFO, WARN, ERROR – Create a TAG so we can filter

  • LifeCycleTest • Run the app

    and open the Logcat view. – Eclipse

    Window-> Show View -> Other -> Android -> Logcat or via DDMS

  • Logcat • After app started

  • Logcat • Rotate emulator with CTRL+F-11

  • Pausing - onPause method • when activity paused you should

    – stop animations of other CPU intensive tasks

    – release resources such as broadcast receivers (app stops listening for broadcast info) and handles to sensors such as GPS device or handles to the camera

    – stop audio and video if appropriate

  • Stopping - onStop() • Many scenarios cause activity to be stopped • Well behaved apps save progress and restart

    seamlessly • Activity stopped when:

    – user performs action in activity that starts another activity in the application

    – user opens Recent Apps window and starts a new application

    – user receives phone call • use onStop to release all resources and save

    information (persistence)

  • How to stop an Activity yourself? • Generally, don't worry about it! • "Note: In most cases, you should not explicitly

    finish an activity using these methods. As discussed in the following section about the activity lifecycle, the Android system manages the life of an activity for you, so you do not need to finish your own activities. Calling these methods could adversely affect the expected user experience and should only be used when you absolutely do not want the user to return to this instance of the activity."

    • methods: finish(), finishActivity()

  • Saving State • activities that are paused or stopped the

    state (instance vars) of the activity are retained – even if not in foreground

    • When activity destroyed the Activity object is destroyed – can save information via

    onSaveInstanceState method. Write data to Bundle, Bundle given back when restarted

  • Activity Destruction • app may be destroyed under normal

    circumstances – on its own by calling finish or user pressing

    the back button to navigate away from app – normal lifecycle methods handle this

    onPause() -> onStop() -> onDestroy

    • If the system must destroy the activity (to recover resources or on an orientation change) must be able to recreate Activity

  • Activity Destruction

  • Activity Destruction • If Activity destroyed with potential to be

    recreate later • system calls the onSaveInstanceState

    (Bundle outState) method • Bundle is a data structure like a Map

    – String keys – put methods for primitives, arrays, Strings,

    Serializables (Java), and Parcels (android)

  • onSaveInstanceState onRestoreInstanceState()

    • systems write info about views to Bundle • other information must be added by

    programmer – example, board state for mastermind

    • When Activity recreated Bundle sent to onCreate and onRestoreInstanceState()

    • use either method to restore state data / instance variables

  • Starting You Own Activities • You will often start new Activities within your

    Activity – accomplish a task – get some data

    • Click Button to get name – on button click (look at xml) – create an intent – call startActivityForResult – override onActivityResult() – add new Activity to Manifest – add data to intent, setResult, finish



  • Intent Demo


    LifeCycle TestActivity

    Name Getter

    Intent holding constant


    Intent holding Name


  • Playing Well (or not) With Others • The Play Sound button

    causes a MediaPlayer to be created and plays a sound

    • The Lifecycle app does not clean up after itself

    • If app destroyed MediaPlayer keeps playing!!

  • References • Android Introduction by Marko Gargenta,

    http://www.lecturemaker.com/2009/10/and roid-software-platform/

    • Android Dev Guide http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/f undamentals.html http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/f undamentals/activities.html

    • Pro Android by Hashimi & Komatineni (2009) • Frank McCown, Harding University

    http://www.lecturemaker.com/2009/10/android-software-platform/ http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/fundamentals.html http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/fundamentals/activities.html

    CS378 - Mobile Computing Application Components Application Components Hello Android Activity Stack Typical Game

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